Trees and plants not only beautify our communities; they also play a vital role in keeping our environment healthy. However, trees and forested areas must sometimes be removed to provide space for roadway improvement projects. That is why the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) established reforestation and planting programs. We consider protection of these natural resources a key part of our mission.
When a project is planned, we locate nearby trees and determine how they might be affected by our work. This first step also includes determining if any trees or plants within a project area are rare, threatened, or endangered. Special consideration is given to preserving these types of species. In the next step we review a project’s design with the community and other stakeholders to reduce impacts. Sometimes trees must be removed. When this is the case, we follow laws and regulations and make sure new trees are planted to replace those that are removed.
More than just meeting legal obligations, MDOT SHA’s reforestation and planting programs focus on restoring the quality of forested areas, ensuring a viable home for Maryland’s vast array of wildlife. We established these programs to “green” Maryland's roads and highways.
The Million Tree Initiative is a great example of MDOT SHA’s commitment to reforestation. In 2009, we started working with other State agencies on the Million Tree Initiative with the goal of planting one million trees in Maryland by the end of 2011. MDOT SHA provided $800,000 in funding through a Transportation Enhancement Program grant and planting-site reviews to meet environmental requirements. By May 2011, Initiative partners exceeded the goal. A benefit analysis calculated that the million trees planted can absorb 10 million gallons of polluted stormwater every year, preventing pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As the trees grow, so do their environmental benefit: In 15 years, the mature trees should ‘scrub’ up to eight times more stormwater.
Various communities throughout the state participate in our Partnership Planting program to restore flowers, trees, and other plants in their own neighborhoods. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved in a partnership program, see the resources listed here or contact us at
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